Renewable energy : The discovery of traditional sources of energy, mainly fossil fuels, gave a new direction to the development of human history. It is notable that fossil fuels have the capacity to meet the energy demands of the entire world for several hundred years. It also played an important role in the industrial revolution in the twentieth century. But its excessive consumption around the world also gave rise to many challenges, forcing the world to think about its replacement. In the 1970s, environmentalists began promoting renewable energy as a way to reduce and replace our dependence on fossil fuels. By the beginning of the 21st century, 20 percent of the world’s energy consumption was derived from renewable energy. It is important to note that in the last few years, India has also expanded its power generation capacity considerably. In the last three years, energy from renewable sources has increased by about 25 percent.
What is renewable energy?
- It is such energy that depends on natural sources. It includes solar energy, geothermal energy, wind, tidal, water and various types of biomass.
- It is notable that it can never be finished and is constantly renewed.
- Renewable energy resources are spread over vast stretches of land compared to conventional sources of energy (which exist in a very limited area of the world) and can be readily available to all countries.
- These are not only environmentally friendly but also have many economic benefits associated with them.
It includes the following:
- Air power
- solar energy
Importance of renewable energy
- Renewable energy is environmentally friendly
It is a clean source of energy, meaning it has minimal or zero carbon and greenhouse emissions. While fossil fuels in contrast emit significantly more greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, they are largely responsible for global warming, climate change and air quality degradation. In addition, fossil fuels also emit sulfur into the atmosphere, resulting in acid rain. The use of renewable energy significantly reduces dependence on fossil fuels as a source of energy.
- Sustainable source of energy
Energy derived from renewable resources is considered a permanent source of energy, this means that they never run out or can be said to have a near-zero chance of ending. On the other hand, sources of energy such as fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) are considered as limited resources and there is a strong possibility that they will run out in the future.
- Helpful in job creation
Renewable energy is a better and cheaper source than other conventional alternatives. It is important that as the trend of renewable energy increases in the world, new and permanent jobs are also being created. For example, in countries like Germany and Britain, many new jobs have been created to encourage the use of renewable energy.
- Global energy prices stabilize
Due to the promotion of renewable energy, it is being used extensively in many countries of the world, due to which there has been a lot of stability in energy prices globally.
- Promotion of public health
Numerous studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between renewable energy and people’s health, and what governments invest on renewable resources of energy has a clear impact on the health level of the common people. It is important to note that greenhouse, carbon and sulfur emitted by fossil fuels are very harmful for human health.
Why need replacement?
- Although oil, natural gas and coal are abundant in nature, it is clear from the alarming rate at which they are being consumed that they will one day be gone.
- Apart from this, it is also not possible to recover them in the short term, because this process takes more than millions of years.
- Fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, which are capable of damaging the ozone layer.
- The extraction of fossil fuels has endangered the environmental balance in some areas. In addition, coal mining has endangered the lives of many mine workers.
- At present, fossil fuel extraction has also become a very expensive process, due to which their prices have been significantly affected.
- Transportation of fossil fuels is considered very risky, as their leakage can pose serious hazards.
- They contribute greatly to global warming.
Status of Renewable Energy in India
- Keeping in mind the responsibility towards a clean earth, India has resolved that by the year 2030, 40% of our installed capacity for power generation will be based on clean sources of energy.
- It has also been determined that 175 GW of renewable energy capacity will be installed by the year 2022. This includes achieving 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro projects.
- With this ambitious target achieved, India will join the ranks of the world’s largest clean energy producers. Even it surpasses many developed countries.
- In 2018, thermal power accounted for 63.84 per cent of the country’s total installed capacity, 1.95 per cent of nuclear power, 13.09 per cent of hydropower and 21.12 per cent of renewable energy.
What are the challenges?
- Generating more energy from renewable resources than fossil fuels still remains a major challenge. Large quantities of electricity are still being produced today from fossil fuels, which clearly shows that renewable energy is still not capable enough to meet the energy needs of the entire country.
- Energy production from renewable resources depends entirely on the weather and climate, and if the weather is not conducive to energy production, then we will not be able to produce energy as needed.
- Renewable energy technologies are still quite new in the market due to which they lack the required efficiency.
Government efforts to promote renewable energy
Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was launched on January 11, 2010 by the then Prime Minister of India. As part of this mission, an ambitious target of producing 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar energy by the year 2022 was set. In the year 2015, the Government of India gave its approval to increase India’s solar energy capacity target by five times by the year 2022, which has become 100,000 MW.
National Biogas and Manure Management Program
The National Biogas and Manure Management Program is a central sector scheme. Under this, a provision has been made to set up a biogas plant in rural and semi-urban areas of the country to encourage biogas gas as a source of cooking fuel and light.
The program was initiated by the National Institute of Solar Energy under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The objective of this program is to impart skills to the youth in the region in view of the new opportunities arising in the field of solar energy at the national and international level. The Suryamitra program also prepares the youth to become new entrepreneurs in the solar energy sector.
Solar loan program
The program started in the year 2003 and in just three years more than 16,000 solar home systems have been financed through 2,000 bank branches. This program worked especially in rural areas of South India where electricity had not reached till then.
What should be done
- It is noteworthy that the average cost per MW of a thermal plant is about 25 percent less than that of a solar plant. Thermal plants are of enormous potential and a thermal plant generates electricity on an average similar to 18 solar or wind plants. Therefore, in order to move towards non-fossil clean energy, it is necessary to build large solar and wind plants in future so that they can function like thermal plants.
- Statistics show that 63 percent of the total production capacity in the last two decades came from the private sector. Therefore, it is clear that if renewable energy is to be promoted in the country, then the private sector will have to be motivated to invest more and more.